Ophthalmic Mission Accomplished: Lions Trip to Dominican Republic

By Portia Fagel.

Yonkers, N.Y.  It is always satisfying to accomplish all that one sets out to do – and more!  That was the situation our club — the Yonkers Millennium Lions Club — found ourselves in during our recent Ophthalmic Mission to the Dominican Republic!

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We wanted to restore sight to people with cataracts and we did; fourteen patients had their cataracts extracted. We wanted to distribute thousands of eyeglasses and we did – all 3,000 of them. We wanted to do vision screenings on young children – and we did 448 of them.

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And on our last day in the Dominican Republic we learned of a volunteer at the Fundación Mujeres en Restauración whose house has a roof that leaks so bad it is ruining their appliances. We decided to donate money to have the roof fixed.

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We are providing a 7-year old child at the Escuela Basica Bill Grant with special lenses. We would have paid for the surgery to correct her vision but we were told that it was too late to help her with surgery as her problem was diagnosed too late.

We accomplished all that with the help of many generous donations of time and money. We thank our New York supporters who donated money, eyeglasses, soaps, and support. The newly-formed New York Global Leaders Lions Club was able to bring is support from the J. Luce Foundation. We also thank the Dominican Lions and Lions Clubs for their time and friendship.

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On December 1, 2015 Lion President Sara Fernandez Lopez, Lions Teresita Angos, Silvia Estebanez, Portia Fagel, Bless Punzalan, Aurora Santoro along with Immediate Past District Governor Mike Bhuiyan, and Lion President Roseann Levy of the New York Cosmopolitan Lions Club flew to Santo Domingo’s Las Americas Airport to begin the project that has been months in the planning by Yonkers Millennium.

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There they were met by a delegation of Lions led by District Governor Luis Felipe Concepcion, his cabinet secretary and several members of the Club de Leones Romana Centro, our leading partners in this ophthalmic mission. After a brief stop at the home of Ana Luisa Ferreira De Gomez and her husband Henry Gomez for light lunch we proceeded to the Fundacion Mujeres en Restauración.

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We donated 28 computers to the Fundacion and Mrs. Ferreira De Gomez wanted to show us how the computers are being used. The Foundation is a vocational training site for abused women and she and her husband Mr. Gomez and INFOTEP are currently training 120 women and have graduated 100 more on the use of computers. INFOTEP is an autonomous body within the Dominican Republic government that has been tasked with vocational training for those who cannot afford university schooling.

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On December 2, we were picked up at the hotel by several Romana Centro Lions and driven to the gym where the “Operativo Oftalmologico” was to take place. We arrived to a room with about a hundred people already waiting. After a few minutes of organizing the 3000 pairs of eyeglasses and setting up the eye exam stations, Drs. Martina Guerrero, Eduardo Espinal and Milton Henry got to work.

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With support from our Lions and the local Lions about 400 eyeglasses were distributed that first day. An equal amount was distributed the following day December 3. The rest of the eyeglasses were donated to clubs who participated and to the Fundacion Mujeres in Restauracion which will be holding health fairs to distribute more eyeglasses.

On December 3, we went to Centro Cristiano de Servicios Medicos (CCSM) and met with Dr. Lisa Sanchez, the ophthalmologist, Lic. Nicole Hunter, the hospital administrator and three patients whose cataract surgeries are complete. Another eleven patients are scheduled for surgery. Lion President Roseann Levy of the NY Cosmopolitan Lions Club presented Lic Nicole Hunter with her club donation of $250.00 which will just about pay for one of the surgeries.

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While the group was in the gym, Lions Silvia Estebanez and Portia Fagel went to three different schools where they screened 448 children in two days using the plusoptiX S12C screener. During the morning of December 2, 83 children were screened, 178 were screened in the afternoon at the Fundación Crecimiento Comunitario Proyectando Esperanza (FUCPE), and 187 at the Escuela Basica Bill Grant on December 3.

When all the “hard work” was done we – the Lions of Romana Centro and us – had an evening of fine food, dancing and camaraderie at the home of Leon Presidente Ramon Cedano of Romana Centro. Each of us Millennium Lions received a Christmas present of a Dominican music drum key chain and we gave them a wheelchair.

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All the local Lions who were involved in the project received a token of our appreciation and gratitude – either, a bag, a pen or a friendship banner from IPDG Mike, a pin from the N.Y. Cosmopolitan Lions Club, or a certificate of appreciation and club pins from Yonkers Millennium. On December 6, our last day, we learned of a volunteer at the Fundación Mujeres en Restauración who needed to fix her leaky roof. We donated $700.00 for the roof.

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We came home tired but feeling good. We are Lions and WE SERVE.

Portia Fagel is a member of the Yonkers Millennium Lions Club.

OUT TAKES

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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